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Seanad Éireann debate -
Thursday, 11 Jul 2019

Vol. 266 No. 15

Establishment of Citizens' Assembly: Motion

I move:

That Seanad Éireann:

approves the calling of a Citizens’ Assembly to consider the following matter and to make such recommendations as it sees fit and report to the Houses of the Oireachtas:

- to advance gender equality by bringing forward proposals that:

- challenge the remaining barriers and social norms and attitudes that facilitate gender discrimination towards girls and boys, women and men;

- identify and dismantle economic and salary norms that result in gender inequalities, and reassess the economic value placed on work traditionally held by women;

- in particular, seek to ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in the workplace, politics and public life;

- recognise the importance of early years parental care and seek to facilitate greater work-life balance;

- examine the social responsibility of care and women and men’s co-responsibility for care, especially within the family; and

- scrutinise the structural pay inequalities that result in women being disproportionately represented in low pay sectors;

following on from the above, to prioritise the proposals, which may include policy, legislative or constitutional change, having regard to the legal requirements and the costs versus the potential impact; and

notes that:

- membership of the Assembly will consist of 100 persons as follows:

- a Chairperson to be appointed by the Government;

- 99 citizens entitled to vote at a referendum, recruited at national level and randomly selected in accordance with best recruitment practice, as advised by industry experts so as to be broadly representative of Irish society; and

- membership of the Assembly will not include participation by politicians;

- the maximum length of service for Assembly members other than the Chairperson who will be appointed for a 12 month term, will be six months and the work programme for the Assembly will be developed in accordance with this, however, in the event of unforeseen circumstances, membership may continue until active consideration of a topic has been completed;

- members will receive a nominal stipend on a per weekend basis for each meeting attended, to recognise their civic commitment;

- substitutes may be appointed subject to the selection criteria above, who will be entitled to contribute to the proceedings and vote in their own name;

- the Assembly will agree its own rules of procedure for the effective conduct of its business in as economical a manner as possible;

- the Assembly will operate in an open and transparent manner, including live streaming of public proceedings and the prompt publication of relevant documentation and material;

- the Assembly will make a report and recommendation(s) on the matter set out above to the Houses of the Oireachtas, which on receipt, will refer the report for consideration to a relevant Committee of both Houses and the Committee will, in turn, bring its conclusions to the Houses for debate;

- the Assembly will spend a minimum of two meetings considering the topic assigned to it and will report in any event not later than one year from the date of the first Assembly meeting;

- the Assembly may also be asked to consider such other matters as may be referred to it by the Houses of the Oireachtas;

- a new Expert Advisory Group will be established for the topic being considered to assist the work of the Assembly in terms of preparing information and advice;

- the Assembly may invite and accept submissions from the general public and interested bodies and will seek such expert advice as it considers desirable;

- the Assembly will engage independent researchers to monitor and record, amongst other things, the perceived deliberative quality of the Assembly;

- all matters before the Assembly will be determined by a majority of the votes of members present and voting, other than the Chairperson who will have a casting vote in the case of an equality of votes; and

- the Government will provide in the Houses of the Oireachtas a response to each recommendation of the Assembly and, if accepting some or all of the recommendations, will indicate the timeframe it envisages for the holding of any related referendum.

Question put and agreed to.